Let me start by saying that these are my words and thoughts and while I am trying to give an overview of our SBC Voices team, I am responsible for whatever follows. Still, as one of the co-editors of the blog, I wanted to comment on who we are collectively. The guys did not sign off on my remarks, but I think I am accurate here.
Some of you might have experienced that your comments have not appeared on our site. Even as we allow differing views to be presented here and strive to have an open comment policy, we’ve been deleting more comments than usual these days. For one, it’s our blog and we can do what we want. But more, we don’t have time even collectively to respond to the seemingly same group of people making the same arguments on post after post. We all have ministries that require our attention and want to have free and open discussion not endless, fruitless debate. I guess we are just growing a little less tolerant and less willing to give free license to any and all comments. There are certain arguments that we just aren’t going to allow in our comment streams or will give a narrow latitude to. You can read all these counter-points elsewhere on other blogs if you are so inclined.
Also, while we at SBC Voices are diverse in many things, we are decidedly like-minded in a number of things and feel no obligation to be “fair and balanced” on some of these issues. While we represent different views, we often do take a side and are not going to spend a lot of time defending our right to do so. The internet is open, you are free to start your own blog. In the meantime, just know that SBC Voices, while diverse, is unified on a number of key things and while we sometimes allow guest posts, you shouldn’t expect to find many articles that oppose these ideas.
We desire a robust unity in our Convention around biblical theology and the Great Commission. Our authors are made up of Calvinists and non-Calvinists, continuationists and cessationists, churches with elders and pastor-led, small churches and large ones, Southerners and guys from outside the South, Yankees fans and smart people, etc. etc., but we all agree on one thing: we want to work together for the cause of Christ and see the gospel go forth to our communities and to the nations. We believe the BFM2000 is sufficient biblical grounds for unity. We have differing views about politics and policies, about what IMB and NAMB are doing, about evangelistic strategies, about theological matters on tertiary issues, but we ALL want the SBC to be unified around a robust, biblical theology and a commitment to Kingdom work. That means particularly we want to see those who are Calvinists work hand in hand with those who are not. We agree that young Calvinist pastors shouldn’t hide their identity and blow up churches AND we agree that a belief in Calvinist doctrines shouldn’t be used to keep people from serving in leadership and partnership in Baptist work. We don’t care the soteriology of our elected officials or entity heads or committee members, so long as they are FOR unity and not Calvinist combatants or anti-Calvinist combatants. This goes for other fault-lines among Baptists as well. We believe in cooperating for Kingdom work.
We agree that discernment blogging and online polemics often do much more harm than good. We believe in having robust theological discussions. We do not believe that calling out teaching we disagree with on secondary and tertiary issues, or even sloppy exegesis, warrants personally attacking a person or labeling their teaching as heresy. Though we sometimes engage in responding to bad teaching or bad behavior, we agree that blogging that is characterized by always attacking others is generally bad. There are certain blogs in SBC life on both sides of the soteriological divide that we treat as Voldemort – we think they are toxic and we don’t respond to or even talk about them. Not because we always disagree with their conclusions, but we disagree with their rhetoric and conduct toward fellow believers.
We believe that character in leadership matters. We vary in who we supported for president. Some of us voted for Trump and others were never-Trumpers. We all agree that it matters what a candidate or president says or does. We think that it is right to call out those that give unflinching support to a candidate by dismissing immoral behavior as irrelevant, excusing demeaning remarks as locker room talk, and think serial adultery is no big deal and that is not the same as saying that anyone who voted for him was wrong. We also vary on our opinions about particular leaders in SBC life, but we all believe it matters what our Baptist leaders say and do. Each of us has seen leaders we know and love fall in recent months. We grieve at the loss even as we agree that such leaders should be held accountable and do everything to bring them to repentance.
We believe that the SBC should be proactive in including people of color in the highest levels of SBC leadership. We think that we should be actively pursuing diversity in our elected leadership, committees and boards, task forces and entity heads. We believe that we should be moving in that direction in a deliberate and fast pace and that such diversity won’t happen without a clear intentional effort. We have actively campaigned to that end. We believe that a denomination made up of people of various races and ethnicities should be represented by that diversity in its leadership. Pragmatically, we believe that we gain much in fulfilling the Great Commission by the collective wisdom we gain from such shared leadership. Theologically, we think that diversity in the body of Christ is a biblical issue and that we should be pursuing the heavenly vision of One People of God of every tribe, people, tongue, and nation now. We reject the notion that a deliberate pursuit of diversity in leadership and in our churches is liberalism or cultural Marxism. Similarly, but a separate issue…
We believe that we should do all we can to influence our culture and our government to be a just society for all. This includes racial (“social”) justice. While we have varying views of what that should look like practically and in policy, we do believe that we should listen to our brothers and sisters of color and their experiences with racism both individual and systemic. While we don’t see all these issues the same, we do stand firmly on the side of seeking justice for all and being willing to hear and make changes in our society so that minorities are not treated differently in society and in the criminal justice system.
On immigration, we have a variety of views as to application and policy, but we stand in agreement that Baptists should have a love for immigrants and seek a fair and humane immigration policy including finding a solution to the so-called “dreamers.” We think that rhetoric about immigrants should reflect our biblical belief in the imago Dei and that we should refer even to illegal immigrants in terms that reflect their dignity as persons made in the image of God. Again, we reject any notion that biblical justice is Cultural Marxism or Liberalism or Leftism or an embracing of secular concepts like intersectionality. We reject the idea that we are following the culture – in fact, we believe Christians should be leading on this issue. Justice is God’s idea and the pursuit of justice is a biblical mandate.
We agree that women should be treated with respect. We lament that women have been treated in undignified and demeaning ways. We affirm the BFM2000 and what it says about women in ministry. We believe that the pastorate (eldership) should be reserved for men in accordance with Scripture. We also believe that women in SBC life should be free to use their gifts and actively contribute to the life of our church and our Convention.
We lament the abuse that has taken place and been covered up in some churches. We believe that sin should be brought to light and that, however painful, we must affirm and minister to and protect and seek justice for women who have been victims of abuse. We believe that accusations of rape and abuse, though sometimes false are more often true and ALL accusations should be taken seriously. That means that sexual misconduct, assault, abuse, rape must NEVER be swept under the rug. That allegations must be reported to proper authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, even when we find those allegations hard to believe. We believe that we should never ever bully and shame victims. We believe that the care of the abused and bringing sin to light is more important than the short-term consequences to the reputation of the church or a particular leader.
These are a few of the issues that, if you have been following us for some time, we have generally agreed upon. These are the views you can expect to be presented on a regular basis here. We don’t apologize for that and you shouldn’t expect us to vary from that. We will continue to disagree on a whole host of things and even on how to apply some of these shared values. We welcome discussion of these topics and even pushback in the comment stream, but this is where we stand. Hope that clarifies things a bit.